Doug Jones has been getting a lot of attention since The Shape of Water’s Academy Award wins, and deservedly so. He’s an incredible actor, and most people who love science fiction and fantasy are very familiar with his work. From Hellboy to Pan’s Labyrinth, the actor has run the gamut of genre. He’s also gotten very used to acting under prosthetics — perhaps why he’s a natural fit for a Star Trek series.
On Star Trek: Discovery, Doug Jones plays Saru, a Kelpian (which is a new species for the Star Trek universe). At times during the first season of the show, Saru felt underused, but there was a method here. The focus on other characters allowed for Saru’s (and by extension Doug Jones’) brilliance to shine through when we needed it most.
Over the course of the season, Saru developed from a fearful alien who was unsure of himself or his place aboard his ship to a leader in his own right. He learned to accept and forgive, but also to fight for what he believes in. He found the capacity for greatness, and the road to it meant trusting others and himself. He found his courage, and it was beautiful to witness.
If you enjoyed Doug Jones in The Shape of Water, then you really should give him a chance in Star Trek: Discovery. The sheer talent of the man is enough to carry any show, but with this cast, Jones is just one stellar reason to binge-watch the first season. Here are just a few (spoiler-free!) reasons why Doug Jones and Saru are amazing.
Doug Jones had to talk about butt padding as part of his Star Trek publicity rounds.
He seems like such a genuinely nice guy, I’d almost feel sorry for him if it wasn’t so funny. (Let’s not even talk about the The Shape of Water stuff.)
The best part of all of this is, in order to make Saru look alien, rather than human, they ended up doing...nothing. It was Doug Jones’ suggestion to actually do away with any padding, which is why Saru has the tall and lanky figure that he does.
He looks pretty impressive in heels.
One of my favorite (and very minor) aspects of Star Trek: Discovery is that if you look at just the feet of any photo of the cast, you can’t tell the men from the women. That’s because no one forces the female actors to wear heels.
But you can always pick Saru out of a crowd.
He eats blueberries and drinks tea.
There is something absolutely adorable in watching this tall, gangly alien enjoy his snack and his morning cuppa.
His threat ganglia are weird and amazing.
Saru’s race, the Kelpians, are a prey species, which means they can feel danger approaching. When Saru senses something imminent, his threat ganglia, which are on the back of his head, activate. It’s a weird and cool little thing, but it also makes Saru strangely vulnerable because those around him can tell exactly when he’s afraid. He doesn’t have the luxury of masking his fear and putting on a brave face like the rest of us.
Jones’ expressiveness through his heavy makeup is outstanding.
Through a layer of makeup and prosthetics, it’s a real challenge for an actor to perform effectively and be as expressive as they need to. That’s why Doug Jones’s performance is so impressive. He conveys so much just through his voice and his eyes.
He's clearly a riot.
Not only that, but this cast clearly adores each other, and they get along well. That come across on screen.
Saru's character development is unmatched.
I touched on this in the introduction, but the distance between where Saru starts the season and where he finishes is incredible. It's a testament to Jones' acting ability and the writing team of the show that they took this somewhat awkward character, originally positioned in opposition to Michael, our hero, and made him one of the most sympathetic and inspiring characters on Star Trek: Discovery.